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Prof and Pints DC presents: “Uber and Urban Politics,” with Katie Wells, postdoctoral fellow in tech and society at Georgetown University, former visiting scholar and lecturer in geography at George Washington University, and co-author of the forthcoming book Disrupting DC: The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City.
Washington, D.C., occupies a unique place in the history of Uber. It was here that the unorthodox transportation company devised its playbook for how to deal with intransigent regulators, learned how to flex political muscle, and first engaged in many of the tactics that it would later use nationwide in its efforts to stay exempt from providing workers with employee benefits.
Gain a deep understanding of how Uber rose as both a solver and exploiter of the problems of Washington D.C. and other cities with Katie Wells, a geographer of cities who has extensively researched Uber’s history and hardball tactics.
She’ll offer an analysis of the political, economic, and social conditions that gave rise to Uber and made it popular as a commonsense solution to various urban problems in D.C. and elsewhere.
Ultimately, Uber’s success and growth was never a sign of urban strength or innovation, but rather a sign of urban weakness and low expectations about what city politics can achieve.
You’ll learn how D.C. was the first city to fight back against Uber and the first city where such resistance was defeated. Uber prevailed here primarily through the success of its “Operation Rolling Thunder,” an effort to mobilize customers. In doing so it offered critics a glimpse of its political power, which would find expression in campaigns the world over.
Among the questions Dr. Wells will tackle: What did Uber’s victory in D.C. mean? What, if anything, was “new” about Uber’s approach to local politics? What exactly was at stake?
Her talk will offer important lessons for anyone who cares about the health of cities. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: Traffic at Washington DC’s 12th Street Tunnel. (Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid / Wikimedia Commons.)